Cool Ways To Beat The Heat In Chicago

At this point, it's getting a little hard to remember why we're supposed to love the summer heat so much. We know that snow and sleet were here just a few months ago, but that all seems like ancient history at the moment. If the steamy weather has you sweaty and drained, these activities can help you stay cool during the dog days of summer.

Splash Down in a Water Park: For something cheap and close by, head to Cermak Family Aquatic Center. Admission is just $3 for kids and $5 for adults and includes access to water slides and a lazy river. If you're willing to travel a little farther, Raging Waves offers all the perks of a major water park with affordable admission fees of $29 for adults and $19 for kids. With 16 slides, a wave pool, a huge kiddie play area and a lazy river, this water park has plenty of ways to keep cool and have fun. Cermak Family Aquatic Center: 7600 W. Ogden Ave., Lyons; 708- 447-0715 Raging Waves: 4000 N. Bridge St., Yorkville; 630-882-6575

Sip on Tasty Frozen Drinks: This is one cool-down activity that just about anyone is willing to try. For frozen margaritas, try the original, mango or strawberry ones at D.S. Tequila in Boystown, which has a charming patio to boot. In addition to the margaritas, D.S. also has a frozen banana rum daiquiri and a new vodka slushy offered daily. Want an alcohol-free option? Try a mint chip milkshake or an ice cream float (we love the grape soda with vanilla ice cream) at The Purple Cow Ice Cream Café in Uptown. D.S. Tequila: 3352 N. Halsted St.; 773-697-9127 The Purple Cow: 838 W. Montrose Ave.; 773-878-1430

Go Sky High at Willis or Hancock: Sure, lots of buildings downtown have the A/C blasting, but where else can you get views to go along with it like those at the top of Chicago's tallest buildings? Summer often affords the best cloud- and fog-free viewing from either the Willis Tower or the Hancock Center, so take the opportunity to escape the heat and see your city in a whole new and breathtaking way. Willis Tower: 233 S. Wacker Dr.; 312-875-9447 John Hancock Center: 875 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-751-3680

Schedule a Well-Deserved Spa Day: Get out of the sun and into a robe at one of Chicago's top-notch spas. The Spa at the Dana Hotel has numerous different massage options and a 50-minute body scrub treatment that will leave your skin glowing. Or try Spa Space, where the peppermint patty body scrub and wrap treatment will cool you down to more tolerable temps and the body bronzing option can give you an enviable tan without exposure to toasty UV rays. The Spa at Dana: 660 N. State St.; 312-202-6000 Spa Space: 161 N. Canal St.; 312-466-9585

Skate in the Cool Confines of McFetridge: Don't wait for the rink at Millennium Park - cool off now at the indoor ice rink in the McFetridge Sports Center. Kids can sign up for ice hockey or figure skating, and public skate hours are held throughout the week. If skating isn't your forte, try out the indoor tennis courts or come by to use the fitness facilities overlooking the rink. 3843 N. California Ave.; 773-478-2609

Cool Off With a Steamy Romance: Head to a Chicago Public Library for some free A/C and plenty of options for your next beach read. But instead of taking your book to the beach, try hanging out while you read instead. The cool, quiet confines of the library are an easy and totally free way to beat the heat. The Harold Washington Library is both expansive and beautiful, but there are actually more than 70 locations from which to choose - find the closest one to you. Harold Washington Library Center: 400 S. State St.; 312-747-4300

Enjoy the Outdoors from Inside: Explore all the natural beauty of the outdoors - including many exotic plants, flowers and trees from other regions - from the comfort of one of the world's largest indoor gardens at the Garfield Park Conservatory. Visiting is a great way to show your support for this Chicago gem, especially since it has recently reopened after experiencing severe damage during the June 30 hailstorm. Admission is always free but the Conservatory is currently accepting donations to help fund its repairs. 300 N. Central Park Ave.; 312-746-5100